Accepted Paper:

Living with comatose patients: the process of articulating experiences in a Japanese hospital  


Goro Yamazaki (Osaka University)

Paper short abstract:

I explore how medical staffs and families justify their experiences toward comatose patients in a Japanese hospital. I focus on the process under which people ‘tell the truth’ under conditions of communicative ambiguity.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I explore how doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and families justify their experiences toward comatose patients. Based on my anthropological fieldwork since 2013 in a Japanese hospital, I deal with the life of patients under persistent vegetative states (PVS) and minimally conscious states (MCS). I also focus on the process and the manner under which both medical staff and families 'tell the truth' under conditions of communicative ambiguity.

The ability of patients under PVS and MCS to communicate verbally is highly limited or non-existent, but they sometimes use their bodies to convey meaning and even articulating some phrases by blinking or slight moving. The problem is that no one can surely explain what is going on under such a state of consciousness and what patients really think about their lives.

I will analyze a politics of life regarding the comatose in a modern Japanese hospital by focusing on the process of articulating communicatively indeterminate experiences. I also discuss my field experience within a Japanese medical and ethical context in general.

Panel P020
Future(s) with/of the human body